Survey: Schools lack GLBT services

Lacey Crisp

A recent survey said approximately 95 percent of high school and college counseling services had little or no gay, lesbian or bisexual resources. Approximately 99 percent of school counseling services had little or no transgender resources.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays sponsored the National Schools Assessment survey and found that most schools do not have policies in place to inform or protect gay students.

The group works to ensure civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

Approximately 200 people answered the online survey. The respondents consisted mostly of educators and students at the high school and college levels.

Emily Souza, Queer Student Cultural Center co-chairwoman, said there should be more studies similar to the survey.

“I’m not surprised at the findings, considering my own high school experience,” Souza said.

Souza said she wished there were an organization that taught schools how to be understanding and tolerant of GLBT issues.

“This is the reason why the QSCC exists, and we have the new minor here at the University,” Souza said. “Having the resources available is great for people who are just coming out of high school.”

She said that she began a gay-and-straight alliance in high school, but after she graduated, the group disappeared.

“It takes a leadership that high schoolers usually don’t have to make changes in schools that need to be done,” she said.

Ron Schlittler, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays interim executive director, said the group found that if there were nondiscrimation policies in place at a school, students generally felt safer.

“We looked at institutional things like if there were policies in place for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students,” Schlittler said. “Also, whether or not policies are being implemented.

“Our school systems aren’t doing a darn thing to change the misconceptions of the gay community. There is such a lack of information about GLBT students.”

He said the group studies lawsuits in which schools have been sued because of discrimination against gay and lesbian students. Schlittler said the group provides schools with information about how they can change or implement discrimination policies.

“We are trying to help schools pick up the smartest strategies to make policies to help make GLBT students feel safer in the school,” Schlittler said.

He said the anti-gay climate in schools is detrimental to all students.

“We found a lot of alarming factors that indicate that things need to be done for students who are GLBT to feel safe in schools,” he said. “There is an encouraging showing of students picking up where the adults leave behind and then form students groups.”

Eren Roubal, a speech, hearing and language sciences senior, said that although there was a lack of GLBT information available in high school, the University has been welcoming to him.

But Roubal said the lack of information in his high school did not affect him.

He said he was part of a gay-and-straight alliance in high school, which was helpful to him.

“We had a couple of (high school) teachers who were very supportive,” Roubal said.

He said more training for educators would be beneficial to correct misconceptions about gay and lesbian people.